A Year In: Reflections on the Stopping As Success program

June 22, 2022
Author: Grace Boone

I can remember still being sick from my first vaccination shot. It was April of 2021 –14 grueling months into my self-imposed lockdown for the collective safety of my community – and life was beginning to feel a bit more optimistic. On the morning of Friday, April 30, I got a call from my boss, who informed me that the Stopping As Success (SAS+) project had just been funded for another four years – and it officially started today. The overwhelming combination of joy, excitement, pounding headache, and fatigue all mixed in to make that day memorable. We gave ourselves the weekend to celebrate and committed to getting to work by Monday.

The past year has been quite the journey for SAS+. Like most of us in the development sector, we have continued to ride the waves of uncertainty amidst COVID-19, the rise of conflict, closing civic space, and the promise that working globally has brought. As we head into year 2, we are taking time to pause, reflect, and share more about what we’ve learned over the past year, how we’ve been adapting, and what lies ahead. This blog is one of many that will be published in a series over the coming months of reflections from our team and our partners.

Gathering, sharing, and applying evidence on responsible transitions

Since 2017, SAS+ has been learning about and working with organizations transitioning from internationally to locally led entities. We have always been driven by the need to gather evidence on good practice related to transitions – how this is happening around the globe – and to share that practice as far and wide as possible. This mandate has been further reinforced as COVID-19 has changed our sector’s ways of working and, combined with the growing call to decolonizing aid, has forced many organizations to get serious about addressing the power imbalances in their relationships, their in-country presence, and how they partner. This past year has been filled with working with just such organizations. The following image details our journey over the past year:

How we partner

SAS+ is particularly excited about working with organizations living into their values of local leadership and seeking support to ensure their transitions are as responsible as possible. We currently have a fantastic group of partners who we work with on a short-term or long-term basis and tailor our support and suite of tools and resources to their transition process. This image helps capture our two key support mechanisms:

Across the globe, SAS+ is partnering with organizations operationalizing responsible transitions in their contexts. In one country specifically, we are working with two different partnerships that are in different stages of transition. One involves a Transition Award through a USAID Mission, which includes a transition from an international non-governmental organization (INGO) to a local sub-award partner during the life of the award. These innovative award structures provide organizational capacity strengthening support to a local organization to be able to prime a USAID award and take on that leadership role during the award itself.

The other partnership is between an international and local organization, in which the local organization will be fully independent over the course of the next few months. SAS+ is supporting the local organization in their financial sustainability after the transition process and in new ways of partnership with the INGO after the transition happens.

These two partnership examples are just two snapshots of the work SAS+ is doing with organizations. We are also supporting various other types of transition processes, developing organizational strategies on transitions, and working with organizations going through a structural transformation to be more locally led. We will continue to share learnings from these partnerships on our website and through events with the wider development community.

Passionate about the role of transitions in locally led development?

We’re always excited to connect with people doing innovative work to help the development sector be truly locally led. This blog is the first of many under a year 1 reflection series and we’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in co-authoring a blog, sharing your story of transition, or partnering in other ways, including through our Helpdesk mechanism.

For more information, you can visit the SAS+ website or contact me directly at [email protected].